Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

APY Lands gallery open in Darlinghurst

Claudianna Blanco, Opening of Aboriginal artist-owned APY Gallery in Sydney a whopping success, NITV News, 27 March 2018

In an Australian first, multi-award winning Anangu artists from the APY Arts Collective have opened their own permanent, Sydney-based gallery.

For anyone walking the back streets of Darlinghurst on Friday afternoon, the opening of the APY Gallery was hard to miss.

While hundreds of patrons excitedly looked at the artworks, the large contingent of Anangu Elders and artists that had travelled from their remote communities in the APY Lands for the occasion, sat and conversed on the side of the kerb across the street, partly from shyness and partly in disbelief at the spectacle their work had created.

The desert mob had come to the city, and with them, they brought their magic.

The two-story APY Gallery, located in prime real estate just a few blocks from the National Art School, wasn’t large enough to hold the crowd that came to the grand opening.

The gallery is the first of its kind — fully Aboriginal-artist owned and led; the APY Gallery will provide a unique space for emerging artists from remote communities in the APY Lands, near Alice Springs, to showcase their work in Sydney. With this also comes the possibility to engage in artist in residence programs, develop their skills, and grow their profiles. The initiative will also allow buyers to purchase genuine, ethically sourced works, straight from the source. Proceeds will go to maintaining the ten art centres that make up the APY Art Centre Collective and their artists.

For these artists, it’s the stuff dreams are made of: “We have expanded the APY, from the desert to the coastland,” Anangu artist Vincent Namatjira tells me.

“To send works here, it’s a privilege for the whole world to see. We are really, really proud of this gallery space and we also thank Sydney.”

The vision for the Sydney gallery had been on the boil for five years. Vincent tells me the idea came from renowned Indulkana community Elder and Anangu artist, Peter Mungkuri.

Sitting proudly in front of one of the paintings while sporting a brand-new Akubra hat, Peter tells me the gallery is the Elders’ legacy for the next generation of artists.

“[This is] for the young people, you know. That’s why we’re opening here. Young people have to become working. … and at APY we’re teaching all that,” he says.

APY Art Centre CollectiveDirector, Nyurpaya Kaika, agrees.

“Everyone needs a job and the art centres are the only place where there are real jobs on the APY Lands, so we need to keep our art centres strong. We are thrilled to be sharing our powerful art and culture with our friends in Sydney,” she says.

And when the Elders, many of them established artists, say the gallery is their gift to the next generation, it’s not an exaggeration.

“A significant component of the start-up capital came from the Art Centres themselves,” Skye O’Meara, APY Art Centre Collective Manager says.

“The Art Centres decided on a small commission on sales of these works which grew and became a significant contribution towards the start-up capital. This, in turn, has allowed us to progress this sustainable model for future art sales for young and emerging artists of the [APY] Lands.”

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